From Webinars to Virtual Events: Tips from the front line

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Webcasts, also known as webinars, are all the rage these days. Some organizations are doing it well, and some are missing the mark. Learn how to determine if webcasting is right for you, how to get started and select webcast software, and how to market webinars. And if that’s not enough, obtain the basics on putting together a fully virtual conference or event.

Linda Detterman is the Marketing Director at ICPSR at the University of Michigan with broad experience in advertising and market research and consulting. Her latest challenge and delight has been in integrating social media platforms and emerging marketing technologies into the organization’s traditional marketing efforts.

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From Webinars to Virtual Events: Tips from the front line

  1. 1. From Webinars to Virtual Events Tips from the front line Linda Detterman, ICPSR The University of Michigan October 27, 2010
  2. 2. Goals Today • To Webcast or Not to Webcast? • Selecting Webinar Software • Marketing your Webinar • From Single Webinars to Virtual Events
  3. 3. Why We Webcast • We are a web product – With over 65,000 “pieces” • Our customers are computer literate • Our tools are oftentimes challenging to use, especially for new customers • We needed “recurring” opportunities to interact with our customers and to create a brand personality • We have no money for that “marketing thing”
  4. 4. We Webcast. Should You? What is your intention? • Educate • Lead generation • Collaborate (internally) • Hard core sales? – No, no, no!
  5. 5. We Webcast. Should You? Can your customers (audience) handle it? • “Reachable” electronically • Access to computers & telephones at work • Computers generally equipped with speakers & microphones • Customers predominantly in offices or open-air cubicles
  6. 6. We Webcast. Should You? Can your presenters handle it? • Can they deliver engagement versus an academic lecture? (a.k.a., What is their “babble index”?) • Technologically endowed or at least not intimidated • Located onsite, offsite, or both
  7. 7. We Webcast, Should You? Presentation Format – Can you handle it? • Consumption much like TV/Radio – Low barrier to exit – Passive – Interrupted – multitasking the norm – Get bored – turn it off • Content MUST match title/abstract • Expectation that slides/recording will be made available without high barriers – a reward for registering!
  8. 8. Selecting Webinar Software • Size of audience – 5, 500, or 5,000 • Technology bells & whistles – Just sharing information, or – A need to break-out, monitor, collaborate • User support needs • Live hosts or not • Telephone and VoIP requirements • Recording & archiving needs • Need for streaming audio/video
  9. 9. Selecting Webinar Software • Audience requirements – Download software or not? • Audience reports & follow-up requirements • Security • Cost
  10. 10. Why We Selected GoToWebinar • Primary Reasons – No downloads for attendees – Cost (low!) • Other Requirements – Telephone AND VoIP – Session size <200 – Easy registration – Pre/Post auto-emails – Polling – No Web cam wanted!
  11. 11. Why We Selected GoToWebinar • Other Requirements – Ability to “throw” control to other computers – Recording direct to desktop – Low collaboration needs – Low user support needs – No “break-out” or “spying” requirements • Good resource for comparing Webcast providers: – Top 10 Web Conferencing Software Venders – http://www.business-software.com/web- conferencing-solutions/index.php
  12. 12. Marketing Webinars – No Surprises Here • Same rules as for email marketing (see LA2M 10/13!) • Send invites with links to “opt-in” to your subscribed email list • Post registration links to social media & your electronic newsletters • Get links on professional association lists/boards
  13. 13. Scheduling Webinars & Follow-up • Consider time-zone(s) of your attendees • Frequency is good – run a monthly series • “Reminder-to-attend” emails – Day/hour before – good – More than that – annoying! • Follow-up emails – Important for attendees, but more important for non-attendees – Should include link to slides/recordings/opt-in email/website • Take time to review the demographics of your registrants & attendees
  14. 14. Are Webinars Working for ICPSR? • Seeing our normal customers attend – but also reaching decision-makers – Faculty/scientists are our known subscription- drivers & they are attending! • Seeing our registration announcements show up in different places • Steady growth of opt-in email list • Current customers using webinars as part of “value of subscription” arguments • Subscriptions have held steady in this “cut-the- budget” environment – even some growth
  15. 15. From Webinars to a Virtual Conference – How we got there • Onsite meeting of about 125 brought to campus every other year • 2009: university budget cuts – travel a “no go” • Historically, conference was simply cancelled • Why not go fully virtual?
  16. 16. What Happened? • Attendance – 2009 Virtual: 227 – 2007 Onsite: 115 – 2005 Onsite: 94 • Show rate: 70% (expected rate: 50%) • Non-North American attendance non-existent • 98% of attendees found the meeting to be worthwhile; 85% will attend again • 56% could not have attended onsite • Downloads of slides robust; recordings – not so much
  17. 17. Virtual Meeting Pointers Create a virtual meeting page – core elements: • Intro page explaining what it’s about, meaning of “virtual meeting,” & who should attend • Sessions & Presentations (links & slides) • Meeting Evaluation • Help Desk*** • Meeting registration page (optional trinkets & trash opportunity) • Discussion & Networking (optional)
  18. 18. Our Virtual Meeting Site – Simplicity!
  19. 19. The Virtual Help Desk • Point to software providers’ Help/User support pages and documents • Clearly state what you can and cannot “help” with • Develop a short list of FAQs • During broadcast hours, have “live” help available • Attendees will yell at you for their technical inabilities & their challenged IT systems – don’t take it personally! – And if the Federal Government is a primary customer . . .
  20. 20. Helping Attendees Help Themselves!
  21. 21. More Virtual Meeting Pointers • PRACTICE DISASTER!! Play with software, simulate disaster, & figure out how to recover • Make registration for multiple webcasts easy • Limit reminder emails • Offer presenters opportunities to “train” with software • Have a disaster expert “monitor” each session • Give attendees time between sessions • Make presenters adhere to time constraints!!! • Post recordings & slides asap • Use social media & Flickr to provide “live” imagery of event & instant discussion
  22. 22. You Got $$ for your Virtual Event? • Virtual event hosting software is growing in sophistication • Check out: INXPO – www.inxop.com • Feels somewhat like 2nd Life – but without any learning curve • American Marketing Association Event – Exhibit Area including “live” vendors (avatars) – Ability to upload your photo – Breakout lounges (members-only & general) – Auditorium – Concurrent sessions
  23. 23. What Money will Buy You!
  24. 24. The Auditorium
  25. 25. What’s a Conference Without an Exhibit Hall?
  26. 26. Broadcast and They will Come!

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